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A graphing calculator is a calculator device that has the ability to display plotted graphs for complex equations such as parabolas and other plotted results. Graphing calculators are also more sophisticated than basic calculators in processing multiple equations and performing more complex types of calculations.
Graphing calculators first came on the market in the 1980s. They replaced basic calculators with more or less numerical function – early calculators and adding machines had a numeric keypad and buttons for operators for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and dealt exclusively with whole numbers and fractions. The graphing calculator added items like sine, cosine and tangent, as well as the above-mentioned ability to display plotted equations on a graph. Graphing calculators became common tools for high-level mathematics courses as a more visual way to pursue learning about mathematical disciplines like algebra, calculus and trigonometry.